By: Omosola Ogunleye
Can intellectual property actually help third world countries? When people normally think of Intellectual property, they often associate it with venture capitalism and tech companies focused on making a profit and thus increasing wealth. However, what if IP could be used to help developing countries improve both their legal and economic infrastructure. According to recent studies, intellectual property could drive up the progress of developing countries, especially those in Africa.
With an emerging tech industry, otherwise known as Yabacon Valley, Nigeria has great potential to outgrow its third world country status. Along with Nigeria’s tech industry, its Nollywood industry is one of the largest movie industries in the world. However, with weak IP laws along based on a feeble legal infrastructure, economic and technological progress cannot continue. IP legal safeguards are so weak that many Nigerians who desire to have businesses prosperity free of infringement have chosen to utilize other countries with stronger IP safeguards. This presents a problem for Nigeria’s economy because it adds to the brain drain epidemic the country has experienced for decades.
Yabacon stands to make great potential to the extent that Nigeria has become the first country to produce Africa’s first own smartphone, called Afrione; the phone which has been competing with the popular Chinese smartphone, Tecno. Along with its very own smartphone, there has been a surge in Nigerian start-ups despite being concentrated in Lagos, Nigeria. These start-ups have shown great promise, to the extent that many Silicon Valley tech entrepreneurs and even Tech CEO’s like Mark Zuckerberg have made early investments! Zuckerberg for an example has already invested $24 Million in Yacabon Valley business alone.
Nigeria and other developing countries in Africa who have begun to benefit from the advantages continue to have convincing support that intellectual property can be a strong social justice tool for communities of color. Therefore it is vital that minority groups continue to instill the importance of protecting the integrity and value of their work and art because it is what truly sets us a part from the rest.